Not change but transformation

Isn’t it amazing how different life can look in a couple of days or sometimes just a couple of hours? The Libyan people must resonate with what I mean, I assume. Their country is in transition and in a way Libya is not the same country today as it was a week ago.

Five weeks ago I received the news I had to leave my house. It was devastating news for me. The ground under my feet collapsed. I made one desperate phone call to a friend who works in real estate. Three weeks later I receive a phone call back. He found a temporary solution for me.

My new place is in the middle of the Red Light District, the oldest and most infamous part of Amsterdam. I live in a busy street with lots of sex shops and tourists.

When I first heard about my new location a was a bit worried. Also I became aware of my attachments to my previous place. I thought I didn’t really care about that home but when I was forced to leave all of  sudden I became sentimental about it. It was tough for me to let go of the old situation and to embrace the new situation on the spot.

It is very human to fear the unfamiliar and to stick to what we know. We cling. This is why we hang on to destructive relationships, why we stay in jobs we don’t like and that’s why it is so extremely hard to get rid of an oppressive regime. We tend to stick to our own patterns and behaviors. Known seems safer than unknown. But it is not very beneficial to our development nor to our happiness.

The fact that I changed my mind about my situation wasn’t because of my wisdom or my spiritual training, it was my ego that came to the rescue. I went from unhappy to happy the moment I found out that my new place was one of the coolest spots the company of my friend had available and that the average time one would spend on their waiting list was more than a year. I was given crazy preference. It was exactly the same appartment but my perspective on it changed within two minutes from negative to positive.

The photo that accompanies this post is shot in Libya. It’s a picture of a gazelle, taken in a bombed part of Tripoli. When I started writing this post I thought the gazelle must be feeling afraid since she finds herself outside her comfort zone. Maybe the gazelle was feeling like me, uneasy with her new surroundings. But when I look closely the gazelle shows no fear, just alertness. She doesn’t seem to have a preference for the bushes or the destructed concrete.

The happiness that I experienced when my perspective on my new house shifted from ‘small apartment in a crappy neighbourhood’ to ‘exclusive pad in renovated monumental building with a long waiting list’ has nothing to do with true freedom. It is just a way of temporarily escaping feelings of inferiority. I find the freedom in the Libyan gazelle, who shows me what is important. She lives her life, abides in the present moment, is aware and alert, embraces her surroundings without judgment.

I hope the Libyan people are more like the gazelle and less like me. I fear the opposite though. I wish them true freedom and not just a change of regime but a transformation of regime. I will be extremely hard to not fall in the trap of greed and revenge when we have been deprived and abused for such a long time.

Overcoming my selfishness and self-pity is a daily task. I need to remind myself over and over again. Today it was the fragile gazelle that helped me realize that. I feel different from an hour ago. I feel gratitude for my new place and am grateful to the people who helped me out. I wish the people in Libya similar experiences soon and often.


  1. Justyna says

    hey Atalwin! I hear you! If it was me i would feel extremely uncomfortable in a new surroundings. A bit lost, vulnerable, insecure… oh yes, very insecure. But whenever it happens I tell myself that it is very human part of me that is afraid and I try to let her be, I try to comfort her and give her as much support as she needs. And then, this insecure part just dissipates… love J.

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